Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Gadwall - Mareca strepera
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General Comments Though not one of our more abundant ducks, the Gadwall is one of the few that nests in some numbers in the state, but only near the coast. The population, especially in winter, in the state has been on the slow increase over the past 50 years, as it was rare at many inland sites several decades ago. It breeds in fresh to slightly brackish marshes near ponds and impoundments. In winter, as with nearly all dabbling ducks, it occurs on lakes, ponds, and impoundments, generally where open or marshy (not near forested cover).
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S2B,S4N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Uncommon to locally fairly common breeding summer resident along and near the northern and central coast, south to Carteret; apparently absent as a breeder southward and away from the coast. Most birds breed in the Pea-Bodie islands area. Fairly common to common (locally very common) winter resident in the Tidewater and coastal areas, south to Carteret; uncommon to fairly common along the southern coast. Farther inland, it is mostly uncommon to locally fairly common. Generally mid-Sep to early Apr, where it does not nest. Peak counts:
Piedmont Winter resident. Uncommon in most areas, but locally fairly common; generally late Oct to early Apr. A few summer records. Peak counts: 2.000+, Pee Dee NWR, on several dates since 2000.
Mountains Winter visitor. Rare, in low elevations (mainly below 2,500 feet). Very rare at higher elevations. Late Oct into Apr. Peak counts: 100+ on Lake Osceola (Henderson).
Finding Tips The coastal NWR's are good for finding nearly all of the dabbling ducks, including the Gadwall. A day spent at Pea or Bodie islands, or at Lake Mattamuskeet, in the fall or winter will certainly turn up the species. It can be difficult to find this species at many inland counties.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-01], LeGrand[2019-07-31], LeGrand[2018-11-06]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.